A new visitor to the Garden

Posted: February 25, 2021 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK
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Was surprised to find a Fieldfare in the garden the other day. This was the first record since we arrived here in 2000 and took the garden list to 46 species. I didn’t manage to photograph it but here are some pictures of Fieldfare taken at Bough Beech earlier in the year

I remember seeing my first Ring-billed Gull. It was the long-staying one at Copperhouse Creek in West Cornwall. Years later we had one that returned to Greenwich/Isle of Dogs in London. Like the Copperhouse bird, it returned to the site for a number of years running.

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Snow

Posted: February 9, 2021 in Landscape, Natural History
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It was pretty wet over the weekend, but I did manage to find a break in the weather to do my garden birdwatch and recorded 11 species in the hour (plus 3 more flying over which don’t count towards the birdwatch. The flock of Redwing and the Nuthatch stayed away but most of the regulars put in an appearance

Big Garden Birdwatch

Posted: January 29, 2021 in Birds, Natural History
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Here in the UK, it’s the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch organised by the RSPB. This is the largest citizen science project in this country and last year almost 500,000 people took part and this year with many more of us at home in lockdown they expect the response to break that half a million observer barrier.

I have three local spots to record – My own garden, my local park and the gardens of a nearby historic house. I hope to get these done over the weekend but typically all plans have been put on hold as we have heavy rain here in London at the moment and even the birds in my garden have disappeared. Let’s hope it clears up so the results can flow in.

The survey which has now been running since 1979 has been important in tracking the rises and falls in ‘common birds’ found in gardens. It has plotted the declines in House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Robins and song Thrushes and has highlighted areas where more in detail studies should be undertaken.

Robin

So I am poised and ready for this years count. If only the rain would stop!

Some pictures from my walk around the Tarn this morning

Sunset

Posted: January 22, 2021 in Landscape, Natural History
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Beautiful Sunset

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Last nights sunset in the Town of Maine, Broome County, New York. One of my favorite places to go looking for some good sunset images form time to time on upper East Main road just north of Johnson City.

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Nothing new in History

Posted: January 19, 2021 in History
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Who would have thought that social distancing and self-isolation were a medieval invention.

In the cellar of the White Tower are some examples of items brought back from various military campaigns and presented to the Royal Armouries. Many of these are weapons but there are a few curiosities.

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A golden winged lion statue captured by British forces beseiging the French in Corfu in 1809.

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A bronze bell  taken from the Russian fort at Bomersund during the Crimean war. Most metal objects captured were melted down for casting as artillery, but this fine example survived.

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A decorated strongbox captured from the Spanish at Havana Cuba in 1762, It has an interesting security system – the lock on the front is a dummy and the real lock is concealed on the top of the box.

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A Burmese bell presented to Sir William Gomm, whilst he was Commander British forces in India 1850-55. He was later Constable of the Tower which probably explains how it came to be in the Royal Armoury collection.

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There is evidence of the storage of royal treasures at the Tower since the 11th century. It is likely that these were the items that were not for everyday use, these being kept in the Palace of Westminster (a Jewel Tower was constructed within the Palace in 1369) or wherever the royal court was situated.

Wakefield Tower

Wakefield Tower

Initially, the Treasury was housed in the White Tower but in the 16th century, it was transferred to a purpose-built Jewel House. On the execution of Charles I, the keeper of the Jewels, Carew Mildmay, was imprisoned because he refused to turn over the keys of the Jewel House to the republican government. It only delayed the inevitable and they broke down the doors and either sold off or melted down all they found within. Following the restoration of Charles II, the new crown jewels were housed in the Martin Tower and then the Wakefield Tower (from 1869) before being housed in the new jewel house located within the Waterloo Block in 1967.

Waterloo Block

Waterloo Block

Door to Jewel House

Door to Jewel House in Waterloo block

As with Treasury, the White Tower was also used to store the records of the chancery. These related mainly to details of property ownership and taxation. The records office moved to the Wakefield Tower in the late 14th century where it remained until 1858 when with the formation of the Public Records Office they were moved to a purpose-built building in Chancery Lane near Holborn.